Almost three years ago, Google said on an Android Auto support page that its app would get full support for touchpad inputs.
At the time, the company acknowledged that not all apps support car touchpads and promised to improve Android Auto in this regard.
Touchpads are not necessarily very common in the automotive industry. They are only used by a handful of automakers such as Acura and Mercedes. Despite the low level of acceptance, Google wanted to refine this input method.
Users who want to interact with Android Auto can do so either with voice commands or directly via touch input. The most common method is touch, especially since the majority of Android Auto head units support it.
The recommended option, on the other hand, is to integrate voice commands. That way, drivers wouldn’t have to look at the screen, and the hands-free experience would create fewer distractions behind the wheel.
Touchpad input can be used especially in cars where touch support is not available. This is mostly useful when the vehicle is parked, especially since drivers need to keep an eye on the screen to browse Android Auto.
Almost three years after Google confirmed touchpad support for all apps, the feature is still nowhere to be seen. The announcement still lives on Android Auto’s support page, and Google hasn’t shared any further information on the progress it may have made on this update.
All of Google’s efforts are now focused on Coolwalk. Announced in January, Coolwalk allows users to run more than one app on the screen at the same time. Previously, this functionality was only available for wide displays.
Coolwalk uses a similar layout to the CarPlay dashboard, and apps run on dedicated cards. Google’s current focus is likely to be ensuring proper app support in Coolwalk, so other improvements may not be a priority in the short term.
Coolwalk will be rolled out in stages. The redesign isn’t part of any specific app update, as Google wants to make sure everything runs as expected. Server-controlled sharing gives the company more time to analyze the reliability data collected from the devices. If a fatal bug is discovered, the rollout for certain hardware may be suspended until a fix is developed.
The search giant didn’t share an ETA on when it plans to roll out Coolwalk to all users, but that’s expected to happen later this year. For now, the quickest way to get Coolwalk seems to be to enroll in the Android Auto Beta program, where testers have already been given access to the new interface.